One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Walking On Sunshine

frozen-pond

So…the snow came on Wednesday morning…and then turned to rain on Wednesday afternoon.   The night howled and whistled with wind as the rain battered against the windows…and the temperature rose.  By the time the rain stopped around before midnight, it was 52 degrees outside.  Nice to stand on the deck for a few minutes without a jacket, though it was still damp enough to be a momentary thing.

Morning found us with temperatures down closer to the seasonal norms in the 30s.   I was up and out extra-early, since my recent move and re-registering to vote had stirred the pot of citizens and brought me, as it always seems to, to the top of the pot to be tapped for Jury Duty.  Fortunately, it was a beautiful morning and the trip up-Cape was uneventful.   As always, I brought along a stack of Batman comics to read while I waited, in hopes that officials would take note of my keen interest in vigilante justice and send me home.   No such luck, but at least its an entertaining way to pass the time.

As it turns out, I was excused relatively early in the day.  I did a bit of shopping before heading home, making a stop at Trader Joe’s and even visiting – ugh – the Mall briefly.

But then I was back at the Nest and with a sunny day and a temperature of 35, it seemed a crime to stay indoors and so off I went with MP3 player and camera on a two hour nature walk.

swan-on-cedar-pond

First, I took advantage of the season’s light traffic and made my way carefully across Route 6, to get a closer look at Cedar Pond, which you can see driving by.   It’s the pond which drains into Rock Creek, which you may recall runs through the marsh behind Rock Harbor.   It doesn’t have much in the way of public shoreline, since there are private homes along one shore and the highway on another, but I did see a swan.

I enjoyed the closer look at Cedar Pond, but I also found it a bit of a dead-end.  What a really wanted to do was see if I could find that great blue heron I’ve been spotting coming out of the marsh by the rotary…and so after another over-cautious highway crossing, I was walking down the street toward the edge of the marsh, enjoying the sunshine and some tunes in my ears.

I’m still figuring out the dang MP3 player.   While I’m a bit of a technophile normally, this fiendish device often leaves me feeling like I’m a time traveler from the Revolutionary War era who “knows not of this com-pewt-or of which you speak.”   I tried to set it randomly shuffle through everything I’ve loaded onto it so far, since that can often be fun…but the thing perhaps wisely decided to stick for a while on the folder containing recordings by my pal Chris Shaw, Adirondack folk singer and amateur chef extraordinaire.  

If you don’t know Chris’ music, you should visit his website and educate yourself; it’s just great…and as it turns out, the perfect soundtrack for walks in the wilderness, Adirondack or not.

ducks-on-frozen-marsh

first-heronThe marsh was alive in a way you never quite expect it will be in January.   The ducks were feeding as the tide began to turn, draining out of the marsh.  

From the nearby woods you could hear (I did take the earbuds out for a while here and there along the trip…) the songs of industrious little birds making hay while the sun shone…or whatever it is little birds do this time of year when the sun shines.  ; )

And there, without hardly trying, I found my quarry, that beautiful blue heron I’ve seen flying overhead any number of times since the new year began.   I don’t think I ever realized before this year that they are not migratory.   I’m not sure I’d ever read anything to think that they were, just assumed (we all know what that gets us…) that they wouldn’t hang around for all this winter weather.

At first, one could get a little worried, thinking of them and all the howling coyotes one hears out in the marshes from time to time, but I’m happy to tell you that these guys are VERY tuned in to their surroundings and even though I started out taking photos from a fair distance, it still spotted me and took to the air.

 However, it didn’t seem to realize how keen I was to get some good photos of it, and also, that the place it flew to was right along the path where I was going to be walking.

heron-in-flight-1

blue-heron-best

heron-in-flight-2Fortunately, I had just a little cover from which to snap this pretty clear photo, although it quickly took to the sky again the moment I’d captured this image, heading off to a part of the marsh I couldn’t access.  

low-sun-marsh

 This was fine by me – I have no interest in deviling the poor bird much, only in getting a few sweet photos in homage to a bird that utterly fascinates me.

Did you know they have a wingspan of nearly seven feet?   Amazing.   Once it had vanished into the the safety of the grays and browns of the winter marsh, I turned my attention to the path I’d been looking for, just steps away from where I’d found this majestic creature moments earlier and into the wooded conservation area I went.

wooded-path

wooded-path-2

icy-bend-in-the-path1

This is not new territory for me.   On rides along the bike trail, I’d discovered these paths years ago, but only ever visited occasionally, since it was a bit of a journey from where I was living then to this part of the Cape.   Of course now, this natural gem is more or less in my backyard, so I enjoyed exploring from another direction, with an idea toward making this a regular part of my routine.

tufted-moss

Its so peaceful in the woods, no matter what time of year.   Even in high summer, I’d found this to be a peaceful area where one was unlikely to see more than a few scattered people. 

This time of year, you could probably go days without seeing someone…which is just one good reason to be extra careful when you see icy patches along the shadier parts of the path.

But look what else you can find in the shady places?!   Forget a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end – I’ll take the brilliant green of mosses in winter nearly anyday!  How that color makes my heart sing…

green-along-the-path

mossy-green

sun-on-the-marsh

pine-coneEventually, the conservation area path comes out along the edge of the bike trail, which runs along the eastern edge of Boat Creek Marsh (often seen here at the blog from the Bridge Road vantage point).  There’s no lack of wildlife here.   An assortment of crows wheeled about overhead, cawing and shrieking.   I thought perhaps I would see an eagle or a hawk, as the crows are known to mob those larger birds when they threaten their nests.   However, in this case, it seemed to be another blue heron they were yelling at.

The bike trail offered more of the exercise component of the day and I walked well into Eastham, capturing this image of a frozen cranberry bog before turning around to head south for home.

frozen-bog

another-heronOn the way back, I spotted yet another heron in another part of the marsh.  

This one had remained so still during my travels north a few minutes earlier that I hadn’t been sure it actually was another heron, thinking perhaps it was just a gray stump the corner of the salt marsh.

kingfisher

On the power lines that run along the bike trail (Remember, it used to be the railroad line through here, so while the bike trail runs adjacent to some of the least spoiled land in the area, it is also in someways pretty utilitarian.  You can see it doesn’t stop the birds.), I spotted this belted kingfisher watching the waters below for some errant fish or other thing they find yummy.

I went to college with a guy who had hair like this bird, but honestly, he was really more of a titmouse.  ; )

winter-sun

illuminated-leaf

It was great to get outside and enjoy a nice long walk to celebrate the sunny day.   February’s just about here, and despite my annual hopes for the Groundhog’s prognostications, I have little hope that in the glare of the media spotlight the poor little rodent won’t see his shadow.  Six more weeks of winter – at least -seems a sure guarantee this year.  In fact, there’s snow in the forecast for the next day or two.  Having memories of a golden afternoon like this one will help see me through.

I hope you’re finding some little pleasures in your days, too.

sunset-over-the-nest

(Here’s a shot of The Nest through the trees:  you can sort of make out the door onto my deck.)

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Comments on: "Walking On Sunshine" (13)

  1. Simply glorious! :)

  2. You’ve destroyed all my illusions about where you live–You have a Trader Joe’s nearby? How wild and natural can things be, then? But honestly, it’s nice to know you don’t have to suffer deprivation to live in a gorgeous place.

    I love the herons…in the wild. They seem to have a taste for the fish in our pond. The fish in the pond started out koi, and now they’re just big goldfish. Not worth feeding pricey sushi to the herons.

    The mosses are so cool. Such a contrast to the winter colors. If only all jury duty could be like yours.

    Our Trader Joe’s has only arrived a year or two ago, so I’m only just getting to know them, but happily so. And it IS a fifteen to twenty minute (half hour or more in summer) ride away. The pecan cookies *alone* are worth the trip!

    We heard reports from a customer of a blue heron who one day swooped in and enjoyed the buffet of our small fishpond and fountain outside our restaurant. They’re aren’t fussy; they’ll happily eat the cheap stuff.

  3. What a rich and varied environment there on the Cape. Trader Joe’s and Kingfishers and Herons. These photos are beautiful. I especially like the path pictures. Patrick taught me to appreciate the promise of paths like that.

    I was remembering that discussion of paths as I explored this one, actually. : )

  4. Morning greg.. Thanks for the walk…enjoyed the trip around your side of the cape, as always, and I didn’t even get cold! You went to the mall??? Is that the same mall, as in Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis? I’m going to show my age here, a bit maybe, by saying I had my first “adult-lite” full time job in that mall AND met my husband there. It’s not such a bad place! Hey! Are you still a no-smokin’ guy? I’m at the end of month 1, with a transgression here & there, but am done with the patches, so I’m on my own and hope I can continue behaving myself! I pick 1 stinkin’ bad habit in my life, and it’s gotta be the one that’s really gonna kill me??!! Story of my life :o} *elaine*

    Hi, Elaine…glad to have you along for the walk. Yes, I went to CC Mail. I very rarely go, preferring smaller locally-owned stores when possible…but every now and then I get drawn in by the siren song of Barnes and Nobles or Best Buy. This time, though, it also provided a refresher in why I should eat before I get to the food court. Still, one of my early jobs as a so-called grown-up was a mall job, so I’ll refrain from further jibs or jabs.

    I was interested to note in an email from QuitNet yesterday that I will reach 200 days without cigarettes sometime this week!! That’s just one of the reasons why it was such a nice walk!

  5. Hey, great news on your nonsmoking progress!

    What a wonderful walk in the woods, just before I must go to work in the city. The blue heron is my favorite bird of all time. I have two artworks (one original, one print) in my livingroom that feature herons. Glorious birds.

    It’s time to pack up the ‘puter and go. Thank you for this respite.

    Isn’t that exciting? I remain surprised at how quickly the time is going, but I guess that’s just what Time does. I’m glad I was able to give you a good shot of nature…and our favorite bird…before you headed to the city.

  6. Great pictures Greg, gives me hope to think that one day all this white cra… a.. I mean snow will melt and spring will come.

    Have faith, Steven! Spring’s not so far off as it seems! (Sounds like you need to pick up some flowers at the market next time you’re dug out, though!)

  7. I loved all the pictures in the browns, oranges and yellows and then the bright green moss jumped off the page!! ha!

    We have Blue Herons here and they look so prehistoric. I love watching them around the edges of a pond or the Sound waiting patiently for that little fish or frog to appear and get too close to their striking range. Their call sounds prehistoric as well. ;-)

  8. I keep wanting to go on a nature walk too but it’s always too darn cold. They say we’re supposed to warm up to above freezing today but I’ll believe it when I see it. Currently, it’s 5F outside so there’s a long way to go, lol. Still your pictures warmed me up a bit.

    I have been sending warm thoughts in a northerly direction for you, so I do hope you’ll see a little bit of a February thaw. If you do, though, be careful of re-freezing ice when you’re walking! Meanwhile, I’m happy to get out there and do some walking for you to enjoy at a distance, at least!

  9. I love blue herons; they always look so improbable in the air, the fact that something that huge and seemingly ungainly can fly is a bit of a miracle. Mom and I startled one during one of our walks in the woods over the holidays.
    I love it when I get an unexpected free day, for whatever reason, and if the weather permits a nice walk, so much the better. I’m glad you made such a nice thing of your early release from jury duty. That moss is spectacular, as much of a prize as the herons and crested birds.

  10. Yeah, the moss is a gem… gleaming remorselessly in amid winter’s drab taupes.

    We used to see a small formation of swans in flight once in a while in Michigan, necks urged to the horizon, majestic and portentous, and counted ourselves blessed.

  11. That photo of a leaf is like a cathedral window, and the moss is a lovely creature. Enjoyed your walk vicariously.

  12. You have such a knack with the lens my man!
    It always make me feel at ease when I see your images.
    And I am not talking about images of you…:P *snikerz*

    Always enjoy your walks and trips & adventure Greg!

    Oh, thanks, Shaney that’s really- what…?

    Heh heh. Thanks for stoppin’ by the Garden!

  13. No, I didn’t know Great Blue Herons could have a wingspan of 7 feet. Wow! I often see them along the Salt Marsh Trail in my neck of the woods, just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The trail here also runs along an old railway track. I’ve never been close enough to get a good photo, so end up making drawings instead.

    Enjoyed reading your post.

    Happy trails :)

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